Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

The Cure#1: Heart and Mind

Posted on | June 30, 2010 | No Comments

It’s my first year of university.

My body is slung over the railing that runs up and down Middle Bay, the residence building that I live in at King’s College, looking down at a spot that has been littered with vomit by very wealthy people for several generations.

Breathing is difficult and not just because I’m laughing hysterically.

Two friends watch me from a few steps up also laughing.

I’m laughing because I think I am going to die.

They are laughing because they are on acid.

My heart is beating a mile a minute and dragging me along kicking and screaming with it. My pulse goes off in shotgun blasts followed by machine gun rat-tat-tat. My head is spinning and my hands that grip the railing are tingling. My legs that no longer lift me are giving way.

“What’s so funny?” asks my red eyed, red haired friend.

“She thinks of me as her brother,” I say.

I try to explain more but cannot because my heart is beating too fast and my sadness is coming out as upside down tears, rushing out of my partially numb lips.

The railing makes a shrieking sound that implies it might give.

“Who does?” asks my friend.

“Not his sister,” asks his similarly intoxicated friend. “Right?”

“202, 480….no that’s not right.”

Both are on acid. One is working on a math problem that involves the amount of people that have ever stood in the exact spot I am standing in. My red haired friend ceases his ground breaking mathematical contemplation and turns his attention back to me.

“You okay?” he asks.

“I was on MSN with “Chantelle”.  You know how my heart has been doing this funny thing lately?”

He nods.

“Well I wondered if I could make it go faster. So I thought, “Fuck it. I’m going to tell her that I like her and see what happens.”

They nod their heads in unison.

“And then what happened?” they ask eagerly.

“She tells me that she thinks of me as a brother and I think I might be dying,” I say and break into hysterical laughter. The words hurt and so does my chest. It feels like I am being punched from the inside.


Another response from MSN.

Ping. Ping.

She’s in a chatty mood.

“Sounds like you’ve got mail,” says the red haired, red eyed acidhead.


“I hear love is worth dying for,” says the red haired, red-eyed acidhead.

“That song is by Thunder. They rock,” says his free flying accomplice.

Fucking hilarious. I cannot stop laughing. I wonder if anyone has ever died laughing.

I can’t quite explain what it’s like when you think you are going to have a heart attack. My laughter was composed of a couple levels of thought. One is that I am young and shouldn’t have to be dealing with this and its fucking ridiculous that I am. Two, that there is no reason I should be this nervous about a girl I have known for a couple months not wanting to take a ride on the Jewish rollercoaster. Three, imagine if I die in front of these fucking lunatics.

I didn’t.

My heart beat was between two and three times what a human heart should be for the next few weeks, mysteriously returning to normal a few days after my 19th birthday.

My parents were justifiably concerned.

A lengthy investigation was launched into the mystery of Michael Gray Kimber’s manic heartbeat.  Buddhists were consulted and ordered to hold a meditation circle in my honour. Lettuce was eaten in place of breakfast specials and a search through the medical system began.

The search included EKG’s, heart monitors strapped to my chest, blood tests and years of worry. See my family has a history of two medical conditions.

My grand uncle died at the age of 27 of a heart attack. My grandfather before he was 60 years old.

I had a heart murmur that didn’t explain the palpatitations.  With no medical explanation for my problem I was prescribed beta-blockers that slowed my heartbeat and dulled my feelings.

My doctor told me I should quit smoking pot. She didn’t tell me why.

I was 19 and taking philosophy.

With the knowledge that my cholesterol was okay I continued eating delicious breakfast specials. Having been caused no problems by marijuana with the exception of terrible shits from hastily ordered garlic fingers I continued to smoke lots and lots of weed.

According to most studies concerning people that suffer extreme anxiety the first signs show themselves seven years before anything is done to address them.  That panicked night was a little more than seven years ago.

This story began with my heart and ended up in my head.

First my heart.

At the age of 25 I fell in love for the first time.  I mean not just wanting to be loved, chasing some unrequited dream that was in fact safety from the manic beat of my heart.  But the “everything you ever wanted and never thought you could have” sort of love.

In years previous I had lived safely. Heart an ordered machine slowed down by beta-blockers and the idiocy of a romantic. I wrote thousands of pages, trying to take my miniscule experience and make myself understand that to be in the world means being hurt.

They say you feel love in your heart.

I think the metaphor works only because the blood that feeds your entire body is pumped through this disgusted breakfast covered artery.  What began as a nervous feeling on a blind date became a wave that gave me a funny excited nauseous feeling from head to toe.

I felt it in my eyelids when I could barely close them I was so determined for it not to be a dream. I felt it in my lungs when I laughed in that strange arrogant tone that people get when they first fall in love. Like their entire life was a joke and they finally get the punch line. That roller coaster ride feeling in the pit of my kidneys when I felt the shit I had believed all my life about myself scream up and take away my courage. I felt it in the wildfire tangle of my thoughts rearranging themselves, turning mathematics into poetry in the rush of warm blood.

In my fingertips as I felt her heart beat through her hands. Two machines working to create the same soul shaking affect. I was more alive in myself and in her than I have ever been alone.

Only like a starving man given food, I gorged and became consumed by my consumption.

A good many people die of hyperventilation following a near drowning. The problem is that they aren’t used to breathing after so long holding their breath. They take in too much air and then the game is on.

Facing the future, love and my own demons, November 3rd, 2009 began a frantic descent through the terrors of my genetic heritage, my fears, insecurities all in the hopes of coming back to that love and that future I so desperately wanted to get to.

My family also have a multi generational history of crippling anxiety disorders.  I recently discovered that beta-blockers off label function is to control anxiety.

Face to face with everything I ever dreamed about I lost the ability to sleep.

This is the beginning of the journey.

At its heart, Colony of Losers is a love story. Not simply for the woman I loved more than I thought possible but for the friends who reminded me who I was when I forgot.

Come along for the ride and discover the story behind Colony of Losers and Michael Gray Kimber’s panicked fall into adulthood.

Welcome to the Colony of Losers, a world of quarter life crises, anxiety, depression and the friends and the failures on the way to your future.



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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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